Post body here…
Wow, day 12 already? We have 4 matches left in this basho, and some folks are probably really feeling the heat now. It’s going to be a grind right up until they toss the gyoji in the closing ceremonies, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see them hold Mitakeumi vs Terunofuji until the final on day 15. This crew does like to end things with a “Brawl to decide it all”.
With Mitakeumi entering day 12 at 10-1, the somewhat whimsicale discussion at the start of this basho about a Ozeki promotion is now quite real. For Mitakeumi to finish with a 12-3 record only requires him to win 2 of his last 4 match. A quite plausible outcome. We know that the most he can finish with is 14-1, but I do have my doubts that he can make that happen, though I will be delighted if he does. I know the general guideline is 33 wins over 3 basho, but the Kyokai can mint a new Ozeki on any score it chooses. I think I am almost more interested to see how this story turns out then even the yusho race.
Leaders: Terunofuji, Mitakeumi
Hunt Group: Abi
Chasers: Takarafuji, Kotonowaka, Kotoeko
4 matches remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Kagayaki vs Kaisei – Hey, look who is back! It’s Kagayaki, and he seems to have his sumo back in working order. He visits from Juryo to fill the banzuke gap, bringing his 7-4 record with him. If he manages to get his 8th win, his J1E ranking means he’s back in the top division after only 1 basho. I wonder if he will pick up a fusensho today, as Kaisei’s ankle that took damage day 11 may result in another kyujo.
Wakamotoharu vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko has 8 wins, and is kachi-koshi. I would never seriously tell anyone to go ahead and lose matches, but I hope that Kotoeko does not run up the score. He got severely pounded in Kyushu, and I hope he decides to work his way up the ranks at a leisurely pace. He shares a 1-1 record with Wakamotoharu, who could use 2 more wins to reach his 8.
Chiyomaru vs Oho – I like this matchup for a bunch of reasons. First, its new. Oho and Chiyomaru have never fought before, and the mechanical challenges that Chiyomaru presents will be most amusing to watch Oho try to debug. Second, if Oho can pull off a win, he’s kachi-koshi in his debut tournament, and that would be a great thing.
Ishiura vs Ichiyamamoto – This is the kind of match that the schedulers do seem to enjoy. An Ishiura win would give him kachi-koshi at the same time it would be a make-koshi for Ichiyamamoto. The big problem is that Ishiura has never won against Ichiyamamoto. That being said, I think this is some of the best sumo from Ishiura in a long time, and if there was a basho where he may be genki enough to pull this off, it’s right now.
Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – Battle of the mega-fauna, and not only that, it’s a mini-Darwin! The loser is make-koshi, and the winner gets to try to limp his way toward 7-7 on day 15. Both of them are well below their abilities right now due to some kind of injury, and this could in fact be painful. 5-3 career lead to Chiyotairyu, but that may not count for much given the condition these two are in.
Sadanoumi vs Kotonowaka – Sadanoumi can seal his 8th win, and a winning record if he can defeat Kotonowaka today. He has yet to do that (ever) in 2 tries, so today will indeed be a special day if he can. Sadanoumi has the advantage of speed and mobility, and Kotonowaka size and power.
Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Its time for a good old fashioned funnel match. Terutsuyoshi has a 6-3 career record over Aoiyama, and has generally been fighting well. Aoiyama can muster some fight on some days, and I just hope today is one of those days. If Terutsuyoshi should take this match, they will both end the day at 6-6 and be once again in the middle of the funnel.
Chiyonokuni vs Tochinoshin – Its time to throw Tochinoshin a life line. We give you a fairly one sided match. Even without being banged up from stem to stern, Chiyonokuni had a 2-8 career deficit against Tochinoshin. The man is just too massive to really feel much effect from Chiyonokuni’s hit-and-move sumo style. With Tochinoshin at 5-6, he really could use a win today.
Okinoumi vs Akua – Another battle of the make-koshi clan. I wonder what Akua’s “survival number” would be from Maegashira 10. I would guess 4? Maybe lksumo could help us out at some point with some of his prognostication. I am pretty sure Okinoumi is not too worried about appearing quite a bit lower on the banzuke in March, as he traditionally lofts higher and then drops down to begin again. Like some large, fish-fueled Sisyphus. This is actually a first ever match between these two.
Tamawashi vs Hoshoryu – Another fine mini-Darwin, this time the winner gets a bright, shiny kachi-koshi and the loser gets to go home and think again. Tamawashi is on a bit of a week 2 fade, so I wonder about his chances against Hoshoryu who has won 4 of his last 5.
Ura vs Yutakayama – Say, let’s keep Ura in the funnel, and kick Yutakayama into make-koshi at the same time. Or at least that may be the goal here. Yutakayama is having a dismal Hatsu, right now one loss away from make-koshi. Ura has been hit or miss, and can only manage a 5-6 record so far. This is his highest ever rank, and he may need to spend some time fighting the higher rankers to get his sumo dialed in. But I give him a distinct advantage today.
Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Oh delightful! Two long serving top division men who excel at standing in once place emitting great bounding waves of strength. Who will lose patience first, or will this be a 5 minute contest of leaning against each other trying to wear the other one out. I warn you, Ichinojo is enormous, but Takarafuji can go the distance. Time to bake a pie, I would guess. They will still be at it. Ichinojo has a sterling 16-3 career advantage.
Wakatakakage vs Tobizaru – Both of these guys are in the funnel group, and I think both of them want to stay in the top half of Makuuchi. So I am expecting them to beat the stuffing out of each other today. Tobizaru has lost the last 2 in a row, so I think he may be fading. On that alone, I give Wakatakakage a slight edge.
Endo vs Kiribayama – Can Endo muster the mojo to take down Kiribayama and keep himself out of make-koshi for another day? I know Endo has the skill, the cunning and the courage the dismantle even the greatest rikishi of all time. But maybe today he’s too hurt to bring that version of Endo to the clay. A Kiribayama win would give Endo his 8th loss, and render himself 6-6, back in the middle of the funnel.
Chiyoshoma vs Daieisho – I think Chiyoshoma recused himself quite well in his day 11 match against Terunofuji. He showed some fine sumo, some skill and even some strategy before he at dirt. He’s up against injured and already make-koshi Daieisho today, and he needs to win the remaining 4 matches to reach kachi-koshi. Might we get one of his world famous henka today? I would enjoy that very much.
Mitakeumi vs Onosho – Tadpole battle deluxe! Its the Original Tadpole vs the Junior Tadpole. Mitakeumi has a 10-3 career advantage, and one of the things I adore about Onosho is he could care less. I expect he is going to launch of the shikiri-sen and mega-thrust square into Mitakeumi’s face, daring him to do something about it. Should he upset the Ozeki hopeful, it would be kachi-koshi for Onosho.
Abi vs Takanosho – Well, Takanosho is a mess this time out. Not quite Shodai level of “eeeww” but trending stinky socks in a bucket of brown water mess. I am sure Abi will have some fun with this match, as he’s 1 win behind the leader pair, an should some surprising calamity befall them both, he might just have a role to play in the yusho race if he can keep raking up the wins.
Hokutofuji vs Shodai – Shodai loss is make-koshi for him, and kadoban for March. Make that “Kadoban Twins”, as Takakeisho is already in that boat. I can imagine some ugly future day where its Shodai vs Takakeisho for who gets to survive as Ozeki. Wow, that went dark really fast.
Terunofuji vs Meisei – The question before us, will it be a throw, or will Terunofuji simply ride the broken husk of Meisei’s body like a sled back to his celebratory yurt in the back lot of the Kokugikan? I imagine said sled would necessarily be pulled by Terutsuyoshi and Takarafuji.